Wow! That was a fast transition from Thanksgiving to Christmas, right? I don’t know about you, but we have been hustling to catch up at Weekday School - scrambling to put up the classroom trees, setting out the nativity sets and Christmas books, and getting the children started on ornament-making and other special art projects. One of those projects is always a special gift for their parents. I wonder if they can keep it a secret until the Christmas parties?
One of my favorite parts of the Christmas story is when an angel surprises a group of shepherds who were working their usual night shift in the fields outside of Bethlehem. The angel suddenly appears in the sky and says, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all people.” If you are familiar with Bible stories that include angels, you know that their opening line is typically, “Don’t be afraid.” Angels are daunting. Their sudden appearance was most certainly shocking and scary. That’s why their first task in the Christmas story was to calm and reassure the shepherds.
In like manner, raising and educating children can be daunting. It’s scary at times. We may worry that we’re not doing things right or that we are messing up our kids in some fundamental way. Are our kids behind? Do they have some deficient that will interfere with their ability to make friends or do well in school? I get it. I feel these as a parent myself. And our current educational culture can fuel our fears. The fear that we are falling behind as a nation has propelled politicians and policy makers to supersize educational expectations and increase the amount and depth of school work we fit into each grade of school, beginning with preschool. Education has become a pressure cooker for teachers, parents, and students.
It is very important for the Weekday School to be informed and engaged in pursuing excellence in early childhood education. At the same time, we do not base our educational decisions on fear. Our educational philosophy is grounded in faith and trust in God. Proverbs 22:6 says, “Train a child in the way he should go. When he is old, he will not turn away from it.” We know that training is a process that takes time. We also believe that God is the creator of the developmental process and that this process is on a timetable beyond our control. So we focus on what we know to be developmentally appropriate and educationally sound. We trust that with time, and positive school experiences, supportive teachers and parents and God’s loving care, our children will grow up equipped with what they need. And we also trust, that if our children face struggles, God will be with us and with show us what we need to do. We can “fear not” because God is with us. That, my school friends, is what celebrating Christmas is all about - remembering that God cares about us so profoundly that He came to earth to be with us.
Merry Christmas to you,